New book chapter on begging call mimicry

Apr 15, 2018

diederik chick
Begging calls provide nestling brood parasites with a powerful and flexible tool for avoiding rejection, altering parental provisioning and competing with host nestmates. Despite much research into the topic, no synthesis of parasite vocal strategies for host manipulation has yet been made. In a recently-published book chapter, Gabriel Jamie and Rebecca Kilner review the literature on mimicry of host begging calls by avian brood parasites. They show that this is a more widespread phenomenon than previously appreciated and outline the selective forces that can lead to its evolution. Finally, they propose a theoretical framework to explain variation in the way brood parasite begging calls develop. They suggest that the mode of development can be predicted from a consideration of the accuracy of genetic cues (as mediated by parasite specialisation levels), and the benefits to the young parasite of using environmental cues to modulate their begging call (as influenced by levels of discrimination shown by host parents).

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Tanmay Dixit awarded PhD and starting Junior Research Fellowship

Tanmay’s PhD, entitled “Signatures and forgeries: optimality in a coevolutionary arms race” was awarded with no corrections. Huge thanks to collaborators and colleagues who were instrumental to this work, and to examiners James Herbert-Read and Graeme Ruxton. Tanmay will remain on the team and continue conducting fieldwork in Choma as part of the Junior Research fellowship that he is starting at Jesus College, Cambridge.

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